Joint presse release by the German Environment Agency and the Federal Ministry for the Environment

Climate-neutral travel: Federal Government offsets its business travel

International climate action projects selected according to strict criteria

business travellers in an airportClick to enlarge
The German Government offsets its business travel to make it climate neutral
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The Federal Government offsets all of its business travel greenhouse gas emissions. It tracks the emissions of the car trips and air travel of the staff of 116 ministries and federal agencies and offsets their impact through high-standard international climate action projects. The German Environment Agency (UBA) acquired emission reduction credits worth roughly 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent for all business travel in 2018. The costs of offsetting amount to a total 1.7 million euros.

Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said: “It is important that the federal government sets a good example when it comes to climate action. That is why we are trying to avoid air travel as much as possible. Video conferences are often sufficient for the exchange between Bonn and Berlin. The federal government’s travel cost regulations must no longer emphasise price versus the environmental friendliness of the means of transport. This would result in more trips taken by rail and fewer flights. When flying is unavoidable, we offset through climate action projects, focusing on high-quality projects that result in actual added value for climate change mitigation.”

International climate change mitigation projects are funded through the purchase of emission reduction credits. The projects help to reduce CO2 emissions and to launch projects in countries where renewable energy is in its infancy. The selected projects include the production of biomass energy in households, for example in Nepal and Bangladesh. The German government's project portfolio also includes funding for modern efficient cookers in rural regions of Zambia and Ethiopia. The projects operate under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

CDM projects must prove their “additionality”, in other words that the emission reductions would not have been achieved without the CDM project. UBA monitors for compliance with further quality criteria to ensure the high quality of the projects, including whether they produce co-benefits. Examples of co-benefits are resource conservation, development of local jobs or health protection.

"Offsetting is how we aim to create added value whose scope goes beyond merely compensating for greenhouse gas emissions. The quality criteria in the project selection process are oriented towards the approaches of Germany's Climate Action Plan 2050 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This includes for example funding for cookers in Zambia," said UBA's President Maria Krautzberger.

UBA is in charge of all the operations related to offsetting business travel. It calculates the greenhouse gas emissions produced by airplane trips and the fuel consumption of its vehicle fleet. Airplane trips' CO2 emissions are multiplied by a factor of three to take account of the greater climate impact of aviation, including so-called 'non-CO2 effects' which also push climate change and occur as a result of the water vapour emitted by aircraft. The federal government purchases "green tickets" for rail travel for which there is currently no offsetting as these trips consume electricity made from renewable energies.

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